Nearly 1 million more cows needed for Fonterra’s new factory

Published: Wed 13 Apr 2016 03:02 PM
Up to nearly 1 million more cows needed for Fonterra’s new factory, hearing told
Waimate-13 April 2016-- For Fonterra’s proposed new South Canterbury coal-fired milk drying plant to have enough milk to process, the local area would have to increase its dairy herd by up to nearly one million cows, a council hearing in Waimate was told today.
This would have the same environmental impact on the region as increasing the region’s population by the size of a city of Jakarta.
This was the evidence given by an expert witness for Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA), dairy economist Peter Fraser - to Environment Canterbury’s hearing of Fonterra’s application to build two new coal-fired boilers at its milk drying plant in Studholme, South Canterbury.
“These plants would put pressure on the Canterbury environment equivalent to increasing the population by a city the size of Jakarta – at 9.6 million people - but the cows, of course, would have no sewerage system,” Fraser told the hearing.
Jeanette Fitzsimons, who delivered CANA’s submission at the hearing, said the local environment could not support this kind of pressure.
“If these forecasts did eventuate, the environmental impact of so many additional cows in Canterbury would be extremely serious for water, land and atmosphere,” she told the hearing.
She noted that Fonterra had provided no evidence to support a claim in its evidence that the milk price would increase by more than 50 per cent, in order to restart growth in milk volumes of 4-5% annually.
“These growth levels appear to be a rule of thumb Fonterra has adopted regardless of what is actually happening on the farm, yet a casual reading of the newspaper today reveals many contrary forecasts.”
She said the proposed plans to run the factory on coal would have an impact on the climate, and Fonterra could be hit by increasing carbon costs in the future. Already, Fonterra is New Zealand’s second-largest user of coal, and the subsequent greenhouse gas emissions from the plant alone (let alone the massive increase in the dairy herd) would equate to adding 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere a year.
CANA argued that Fonterra could build the new boilers to use wood, rather than dirty coal. Ms Fitzsimons said she had made numerous efforts to obtain information from Fonterra to support its claim there was not enough wood waste available for such a boiler, but the company had not responded.
CANA fielded an expert in wood burning plants, Christian Jirkowsky, who pointed out that entire villages in Europe ran on large, wood-fired boilers, and the technology was available for Fonterra.
He said that while Fonterra had said it could include biomass in the plants it was planning, purpose-built wood boilers could take a wide range of biomass residues from the wood industry and plantations.
From ECAN’s documents on the hearing:
Total submissions received: 306
In support: 2
Opposed: 292
Neither support nor opposed 8
Links to evidence
Media summary of CANA evidence
Jeanette Fitzsimons oral evidence
Peter Fraser Evidence
Christian Jirkowsky Evidence

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